Saturday, April 28, 2012

Life in a Country Town

Martin enjoying horse love in our driveway
For more information visit my new site

There is an old saying in our part of the can take the girl/guy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl/guy.

This photo encapsulates this sentiment. Wherever there is a horse you will inevitably see my husband.

And even in our small East Waikato town, in our driveway no less, he found two horses to admire. Horses have played a big part in his life. As a child he rode a horse 3 miles to his local school in the days before there were school buses.

In both our childhoods, horses were the mainstay of farming life. My father never owned a tractor. Long after every other farmer in our district had turned to mechanisation, my father had his trusty draught horses, Socks and Prince to haul hay, fencing materials and any other loads to heavy for him to haul alone. When he sold his farm he admitted to shedding a tear when he saw his last horse, Neddy looking out over the top of the stock truck and whinnying at him as he was driven away to his new home. It's hard to imagine feeling that nostalgic about a piece of machinery.       

My father-in-law spent years working with horses and always talked of plowing 1000acres of land on the Maniatoto Plains in Otago as a young man, but he moved over to tractors.

So with this back ground you can imagine my husband's joy to hear the once familiar clip clop of hooves down our very urban street and straight way he was out there to touch and admire the two patient, gentle horses giving school children a holiday treat.

It was a treat that also made this retired farmer's day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lest We Forget

For more information visit my new site

Today we pause...two nations...Australia and New Zealand...proud of the ANZAC spirit forged on the battle fields of Gallipoli in 1915.

We honour the men who paid the ultimate sacrifice that we may live a life under democratic rule.

Men and women who in two world wars were prepared to stand up to tyrants...put their lives on the line to defend the right of our nations to enjoy the lifestyle we have today.

We Will Remember Them. 

Flanders Fields by John McCrae.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Personal Milestones

It never ceases to amaze me how fast these milestones creep up and catch us unawares.

It just seems like yesterday that I was in my old bedroom getting dressed in my wedding finery, so excited I honestly thought I'd pass out. I remember the autumn chill...being very late to the church...on account of my bridal bouquet not being quite ready for me.  And ever since I've been unmercifully teased. My husband's family were, and still are, notoriously late at every function. And they considered I'd started out on the right foot!

And yet the years have passed, seemingly in the blink of an eye, and this year I woke up celebrating 49 years living with the same man. I guess that makes me a dinosaur in the eyes of the young ones.

Today is more special than just another milestone. My husband has battled serious illness, a life threatening allergy to bee-stings and we've survived the trauma of losing our adult twin sons.

But our life had been also filled with hard work, lots of love and laughter and more family than we can shake a stick at.  

And this morning I was presented with a beautiful breakfast on a tray with one of the last of the season's roses beside my plate.  Who says Kiwi blokes are not romantic?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Kura Carpenter

Today I am interviewing designer Kura Carpenter from Dunedin, New Zealand.  Dunedin is one of the creative hubs of NZ.  Kura is fast making a name for herself designing book covers. To set the ball rolling Kura, tell us a little about yourself.

Kura: I have a Bachelor of Arts, in Design, from the University of Otago, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
A couple of years ago my friend, Justin Elliot asked me to create the cover for his YA Fantasy adventure, ‘A Dark Future’, which is the sequel to ‘The Lord of the Beasts’ that was published by Scholastic in 2008.
Being an avid reader, I was thrilled to be offered a project that combined my passion for books with graphic design.
Q: Where do you start in the design process? 
K: I listen to my client, to establish what they want and mostly importantly what they need.
Good Design is all about communication and I feel it’s very important to think beyond the physical props and capture the emotional tone of the book. Only once I understand the emotional aspect required do I actually start thinking about what images to use.

Recently while working for the author Giuseppe Tortorici, he summed up the emotional cues, asking for a cover with, Quote: “A feeling of danger. The overall context should transmit the feeling that something sinister is about to happen, it should not be reassuring.”
Giuseppe’s book ‘Isemen’ is to be released in Italy later this year, see my website 

Q: How do you meld good design with what a customer wants?

Kura's Workspace 

K: A good question! Every product has a function to serve and fundamentally, Book Covers are adverts. I have to understand what is being marketed and what the target audience desires.
I would hope that a client has chosen to hire me because they liked my portfolio, and therefore they will have faith that I can deliver an appropriate graphic solution.

Q: What do you think are the essential ingredients of good design for book covers?
K: Knowing what your audience wants. Knowing what works in terms of how the book will primarily be viewed.
Q: How do print book covers differ from eBook covers?

K: Aside from the technical issues, the main difference is the way they are displayed. Traditionally in a bookshop setting a book had three faces, (front, spine and back) to catch the browser’s eye and make them pick that book up.
Ebooks have changed everything. The marketable surface area has been reduced from 3 planes to 1, and the initial viewing size is as small as a postage stamp!
Q: I often hear readers complaining that the covers aren't a true reflection of the characters inside the book. How important do you think it is that book covers are true to the story inside the covers?

K: One of things I like about self-publishing is the power to decide what goes on the cover has returned to the author. But equally that’s often the case when working with an independent press. For example, I’ve been swapping emails with Stephen Minchin of Steampress recently and I know they directly consult the author about cover choices.
When I work with authors I advise them to be open when choosing cover models, and don’t think about looks, but rather seek the essence of their character’s attitude.
Whether the woman has curly hair or dimples isn’t as important as capturing the spirit of who she is. Is she sad? Defiant? Because that’s what cues the Reader in to the true tone of the story.

Q: What importance should an author place on his/her book cover?

K: A cover is a hugely important marketing tool. For example late last year I worked for Titus Powell  who wanted to redesign the cover of his novel ‘The Dare Ring’ on the release of a second novel, knowing not only could he better show the quality of the book but also establish an author brand. 
We live in a society inundated with images, and people are very sophisticated at understanding and valuing their world through unspoken cues and symbols.
A well-crafted cover speaks to a prospective buyer on a subconscious level, not only does it hint at the content, but it also demonstrates how much the author believes in the story.
I’ve been fortunate to have clients who understand this, and have been involved in several projects where an original cover designed elsewhere has needed to be remade to meet the author’s expectations.

Q: What do you consider are the no/nos in book cover design.

K: Comic Sans. There’s just no excuse.

Shirley:  I had to ask Kura about the last answer... and was told Comic Sans is a font and this was a classic slice of designer humour....LOL. 

Thank you so much Kura, for your time.  Kura can be contacted at